Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010

Dennis Hopper

Dennis Hopper took me on a journey. at first, it was a cultural one. It was with him that I found myself in the studios and dining rooms of the top modern artists in the U.S. — Ed Kienholz, Ed Ruscha, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein. It was with him that I found my way to the Pasadena art museum, screening old, forgotten films from great directors. It was Dennis who put me together with Bruce Conner, a genius collage artist and filmmaker who greatly influenced the films I have directed. But my journey with Dennis went deeper than culture. His infectious passion passed on to and into my life. We ran around L.A. to all the cool spots, always feeling there was something we knew that others didn't. We wrote an abstract comedy that he wanted to call The Ying and the Yang. I tried to explain the bended-word nature of the yin-yang idea, but he insisted — and when Dennis insisted, things were generally done his way. Then one early morning in 1967, I called him from Toronto and said, "Listen to this." It was an idea for a biker movie — a Hollywood road movie, really. But it was much more too. He directed it. I produced it. Dennis and I both starred in it. It was Easy Rider, and it changed the way films were made in Hollywood. Dennis got off his bike a few months ago. I continue to ride mine alone, but Dennis always percolates deep in my soul. Far out, man.

Peter Fonda

Fonda is an award-winning actor, writer and director